Sanitation systems sub-categories on the Forum - a suggestion to change the current setup

  • goeco
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Sanitation Systems categories

The "Sanitation Systems" category is littered with topics and subtopics and in my view should be rationalised to make it easier to find things.
How about (sorry, can't get nesting to work):
Sanitation systems

· Faecal sludge management
o Vault content research and faecal sludge characteristics(26/158)
o Faecal sludge transport (including emptying of pits and septic tanks)(47/394)
o Faecal sludge treatment(33/250)
o FSM Planning tools, toolboxes and guidelines(10/47)
o Faecal Sludge Management - India's pathway to a "Clean India" (Thematic discussion - SuSanA Indian Chapter)(4/49)

· Challenging environments, emergencies, reconstruction situations, resilience issues
o Sanitation systems for "unusual" conditions. Note also the three sub-categories below.
o Urban informal settlements and slums(11/70)
o Flooded areas, floating houses and high groundwater areas(9/41)
o Resilience issues (in connection with climate change, flooding, risk reduction)(9/40)
o Climate change and sanitation(10/27)

· Toilet systems
o Shared toilets, community toilets or public toilets(25/159)
o Public toilets at events or festivals(3/36)
o Mobile toilets, container-based toilets, bag-based toilets(21/286)
o Urine diversion systems (includes UDDT and UD flush toilet)
§ Sanitation systems where urine is diverted (i.e. collected separately), for example UDDTs (urine-diverting dry toilets).
§ Urinals(17/168)
§ Urine diversion systems in countries of the global North and in cities(22/201) UDDTs at schools (urine-diverting dry toilets)(12/105)
o Composting toilets in general(18/206)
o Arborloos(5/18)
o Pit latrines (e.g. simple pit latrines, VIP latrines, dual pit pour flush latrines - i.e. toilets using a hole in the ground)(15/96)
o User interface technology innovations(24/210) Needs to be removed and subcategories reallocated to suitable categories

· Wastewater treatment
o Anaerobic treatment systems (DEWATS, UASBs, ABRs, biogas sanitation systems, Septic tanks)
§ DEWATS (decentralised wastewater treatment systems)(12/106)
§ Biogas sanitation (systems focusing on biogas production)(48/259)
o Constructed wetlands, soil filters and infiltration beds
o Vermifilters (or vermi-digesters) for wastewater treatment
§ Vermifilters for blackwater treatment, "worm toilets", "Tiger worm toilet"(9/97)
o Decentralised Treatment Facilities
§ Design and Technologies(8/105)
§ Sludge emptying, collection and transport(1/0)
§ Operation, maintenance, business models and monitoring(1/1)
o Centralised wastewater treatment plants, sewers, simplified sewerage, condominium sewers, sewage sludge treatment(41/194)
o Algae for wastewater treatment or as high-quality products(5/27)

· Composting processes & Processing technologies for excreta or faecal sludge
o Vermicomposting for various types of waste streams(4/25)
o Odour issues(6/32)

· Groundwater pollution, drinking water treatment
o Drinking water treatment(12/37)

Dean Satchell, M For. Sc.
Go-Eco Sustainable Solutions
www.go-eco.co.nz
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  • F H Mughal
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Re: Sanitation Systems categories

Interesting topics, Dean! I would add aerobic treatment, behavioral change, innovation in sanitation, sanitation promotion, sanitation marketing, and emergent contaminants in wastewater, to your list.

I would strongly suggest that the users may be allowed to create their own sub-category, under “Miscellaneous” – repeat, sub-category under “Misc” ONLY. Elisabeth says no to this suggestion. Here is my problem:

I face multiple problems in internet, here (Karachi, Pakistan). These are:

• Frequent electricity breakdowns;
• Slow internet;
• Internet stop working; and
• No browsing.

This is what I do. After I finish writing post, offline, say on ‘myths in sanitation,’ I come to the forum online, and look for the category, which I’m never able to find – always. So, I take refuge under “Misc” and rush my post, before any breakdown occurs. Elisabeth always complains, why I post under “Misc.”

I have responded to numerous surveys and filled forms. They invariably say at the end:

Or/and Other – and there is a small blank rectangle, where one can write.

Dean, since you are on this topic, would you support a small breathing space for users – creating sub-category under “Misc?”

F H Mughal
Elisabeth: Could I kindly know, what is the definition of “long-term user?”

F H Mughal (Mr.)
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  • hajo
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Re: Sanitation Systems categories

hi Dean,
so we meet here again over a different topic... ;)

I fully agree with Dean that the category is a bit of a chaos. But before start re-shuffling we may discuss how we got there and then eventually how we can avoid it in future.

For me one aspect of confusion is probably a different understanding of technical terms. I will give my definition and we may see a number of disagreements pop up. Let's try:

On-site sanitation: any type of interface/toilet type NOT connected to a sewer pipe (not conventional, not simplified, not solid-free sewer) but having a local containment (vault, container) which contents may be treated (septic, compost, dried) and/or used on the plot or be transported for further treatment.
De-centralised sanitation: any number of interfaces/toilets (>1) from multiple plots, institutions or camps connected via any type of pipe to a common containment (septic tank) or to a 'local' treatment works (i.e. DEWATS) where de-centralised treatment aims at effluent quality which can easily be disposed or even be re-used (watering public gardens, irrigation) locally and only the sludge needs to be emptied and transported for further treatment (as for on-site septic tanks).
Central (conventional) sanitation: large numbers of WC/pour flush connected through any types of sewer (also mixed systems of simplified, solid-free and conventional) to a central waste water treatment plant.

Another problem is indicated by Elisabeth when she states that ‘UD’ is more than a ‘toilet system’. Actually any type of toilet is more than an interface, each toilet is supposed to be considered as part of a sanitation service chain: from interface through containment, emptying, transport to treatment, disposal or reuse. And when we discuss about one step in the chain of one technology we need always to indicate what the steps before and after comprise and in doing so a topic about (i.e.) the ‘Gulper emptying latrine pits’ also looks at the type of toilet/user/environment and at the transport facility (drums, transfer station, transport vehicle) and then easily gets lost in a discussion which is no more about the Gulper.

My first reaction to Dean’s proposal was “why not let the chapters follow the service chain according to the Compendium”, but that does not resolve the problem that postings often tend to cover more than one step of the chain.

Maybe it could help if we always have the keyword of the service chain in the header of the topic which we want to discuss. It reminds the writers to stick to the topic and guides the reader what s/he has to expect in the contribution.

… on the other hand: the often ‘outgrowing’ discussion starting at one step and going to all sorts of different aspects is a very reflection of diversity of sanitation and the need for a holistic approach for possible solutions.

While I agree that we need a bit more system in our topics, I wonder whether my ideas are not even more confusing… :(
Ciao Hajo

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  • jonpar
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Re: Sanitation Systems categories

Hi. Thanks for the ideas, which suggest that something isn't quite right with the way the Forum is structured. I had a look at the postings and was mulling it over... first of all I decided that I didn't have a good enough response to be able to make a posting because inevitably it is going to be problematic to agree upon the structure - and in many cases may not work (as has been indicated on previous postings). An alternative approach could be to have a system in which the title of the posting (and therefore where it would sit within previous discussions) would be suggested by the platform based on previous postings/discussions. A bit like Google, insofar as you type a a word or even a few characters which provides enough for the software to make some suggestions about the theme under which you would like to post. With this system, the most recent and most widely used categories would come at the top of the search. You would then have the option to peg your posting to this theme or start a new theme. I haven't thought through in too much detail but it might work. Interested to hear your responses to this idea. best regards, Jonathan

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  • muench
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Re: Sanitation systems sub-categories on the Forum - a suggestion to change the current setup

Thanks for the four posts on this topic so far (Dean, Mughal, Hajo and Jonathan) I am very happy to brainstorm on this, so please everyone do continue to post here your thoughts and suggestions. Thanks.
I think people find the information they are looking for on this Forum either by using the search functions or by browsing through the category structure..

Just to reply to Mughal and to provide some background: the forum is structured into 7 main categories (see the colourful circles at the top). These all have several sub-categories, and some even have sub-sub-categories). You can see an overview of the entire category and sub-category structure by clicking on the "search & navigation" drop down menu at the very top, This allows you to navigate to the category overview page here:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories

For those with bad internet access, I also provide it as a pdf file here which you can download and view offline (I didn't try to make it look pretty, it is just a copy and paste job):
This attachment is hidden for guests.
Please log in or register to see it.


You can see that some of the topics that you (Mughal) mentioned are already available assub-categories:
behavioral change, innovation in sanitation, sanitation promotion, sanitation marketing, and emergent contaminants in wastewater.
Aerobic treatment is in several places: constructed wetlands, composting, vermifilters and centralised systems

Dean started the discussion about the "blue" category in particular, i.e. the one about sanitation systems which we explained as
The focus in this category is on technologies required along the sanitation chain - toilets, transport and treatment (but not reuse as this is in a separate category called "Resource recovery").

I agree that it is not perfect and there is a bit of confusion and overlap so I am happy to have some brainstorming here on how to improve it.

To answer Mughal's other questions:
I don't understand how it would help your internet connection problems if you were able to start your own categories under "miscellaneous"? If everyone started their own, wouldn't that get really messy? You can start your own threads but not your own categories.

If anyone doesn't know where their thread fits they are very welcome to put it under "miscellaneous". The moderators can then move it later.
In your case, I was unsure why you (as an experienced user) put things under miscellaneous if they belonged e.g. to menstrual hygiene management, for which we have a sub-category. I understand now that it's for lack of time if your internet access is really shaky. Perhaps by looking at the pdf file which I provided above you'll find it easier and faster to find the right sub-category in the drop down menu in future. If not, doesn't matter, you can continue to post in "miscellaneous" if you find that easier. I will just move it from there to the right place.

And regarding "long-term users": as part of "gamification" ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamification ) we have set up two ranks for forum users: New users start out as "regular forum users". They become long-term forum users after they have made 30 posts which usually takes people about a year or more. We have currently about 100 "long-term forum users", such as yourself.

Regards,
Elisabeth

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Re: Sanitation systems sub-categories on the Forum - a suggestion to change the current setup

The last item in Dean's post is "drinking water treatment." For a moment, I thought, there might be objection to this. But, since there is none, could I suggest addition of "solid waste management in the Dean's list?"

F H Mughal

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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Sanitation systems sub-categories on the Forum - a suggestion to change the current setup

My opinion on the categories is that they should be drastically cut down to maybe 5 overall topics and then forget about all the subcategories.

A forum is not a library card sorting system and this specific forum does not get so many posts per day that it would be necessary to categorize them. And for looking up older posts you can always use the search function, which is a hundred times more efficient anyways.

Thus the categories would be more for people to have some topic choices when subscribing to a feed, i.e. some people might not be interested in certain topics at all and thus could not select that broad category.

But I guess this suggestion is a bit too radical of a change :)

Krischan Makowka
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Re: Sanitation systems sub-categories on the Forum - a suggestion to change the current setup

Very interesting suggestions by everyone, thanks. There is no right or wrong. At this stage, it is all about brainstorming and getting a feel what people would prefer - some people want a finer set of sub-categories, some want less...

The good thing about re-arranging threads and sub-categories is that the URLs of the threads continue to work even after moving a thread from A to B.

I do think the sub-categories are pretty helpful for newcomers to get a feel for what this forum is all about. E.g. they can easily see which sub-categories tend to be buzzing and which are only small. (they could also use the search function but then they would already have to know which words to search for; newcomers might like to browse, not search).

Mughal: We already have a sub-category on drinking water treatment and we also have one on solid waste management. The latter was under miscellaneous. To make it easier to find, I have re-arranged a few things. You can now find them here in a sub-category called "various technology options" at the end of the blue category on sanitation systems:

forum.susana.org/various-technology-topics

You can see here what we discussed so far about drinking water treatment (make sure you scrol down below the fold):
forum.susana.org/249-drinking-water-treatment

and about solid waste management:
forum.susana.org/208-solid-waste-management

While I was doing some basic re-arrangements, I took some of Dean's suggestions on board:
E.g. I have dissolved/renamed/rearranged the former sub-category on "Processing technologies for excreta or faecal sludge" and have also taken a closer look at the one on "other types of toilets" and "innovations".

Dean: please check if it's better now?
See here for an overview:
forum.susana.org/33-sanitation-systems

I still have a problem with the category on "Decentralised treatment systems". Many technologies can be implemented at a range of scales. For example constructed wetlands can be small, at a household level, or large at a municipal level with 100,000 or more people connected. For me it is more logical to have it grouped by technology, like we currently have it, e.g. with a sub-category on constructed wetlands, one on DEWATS etc.

On the other hand, I see also the popularity of the term "decentratlised treatment systems" and I also see that sometimes people want to compare different systems. Like it was done for this thread about Kabul in Afghanistan:
forum.susana.org/235-design-and-technolo...ut-kabul-afghanistan

So I am still a bit at a loss how to solve this conundrum. Perhaps a sub-category on "Comparisons between different wastewater treatment systems" which could go under "Various topics of sanitation systems" could be useful?

Regards,
Elisabeth

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Re: Sanitation Systems categories

hi all,

somehow I agree with Kris argument to cut down on the categories and omit even sub-categories...: by too many sub-categories we call for similar topics being discussed under different sub-categories... if all relevant topics are under one category the writer is not easily mislead posting under a 'wrong' sub-category...

also the idea by Jonathan that the category for a posting would be somehow proposed by the system based on the title of the posting sounds good to me... and can be joint with the idea of having less categories..

...and trying to marry the two with my previous proposal to have the categories somehow follow the 'service chain steps' I have developed a 6-tier structure which I attach herewith as EXCEL... you see the structure previously proposed by Elisabeth with all sub-categories in yellow, just to note that they are all considered in 'my' structure... but in future I would do away with the sub-categories...

ciao Hajo

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  • muench
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Re: Sanitation Systems categories

Thanks Hajo, I've done a bit more work on this. Following your advice and the proposal by Dean for grouping things along the steps of the sanitation chains, I have come up with this new setup:

forum.susana.org/33-sanitation-systems

You'll see that that first three categories are now about toilets. This is followed by FSM. And then after that comes a sub-category where all the treatment processes are grouped together*. Afterwards we have the "challenging environments" and then "various topics".

Now I am still undecided if I should merge the three toilet sub-categories into one or if it's better to keep it like this. As you know the forum has had many discussions about UDDTs. Therefore, we have a sub-category on that. I could also move it to inside of "Other types of toilets" but I am not sure if that would help people or not. The way it is at the moment it does reflect a bit where the energy is, e.g. we have a lot of people interested in discussing UDDTs.

The other thing is that I've kept the FSM sub-category together in one block, rather than pulling out the "fecal sludge treatment" into the treatment sub-category. I think the FSM folks might prefer it like this?

I have added a sub-category at the end of the toilet list, and at the end of the treatment processes list, to enable and encourage comparisons between systems.

So here is now comparison of different toilet types (6 topics so far):
forum.susana.org/comparisons-of-various-toilets

And here is comparisons of different wastewater treatment technologies (9 topics so far):
forum.susana.org/comparisons-of-various-...ater-treatment-types

How does this proposed structure feel?

About Jonathan's suggestion:

An alternative approach could be to have a system in which the title of the posting (and therefore where it would sit within previous discussions) would be suggested by the platform based on previous postings/discussions. A bit like Google, insofar as you type a a word or even a few characters which provides enough for the software to make some suggestions about the theme under which you would like to post.

Interesting but technically not possible. Kunena (the forum software) is not as smart as Google... I have also not seen any other discussion forum where it has been implemented like this?

Regards,
Elisabeth

* I am still unsure how to deal with the sub-category called "Decentralised treatment systems" as it creates a fair bit of overlap with the sub-category called DEWATS.

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Re: Sanitation Systems categories

Hi Jonathan,

Just a follow-up regarding your suggestion: I received the following answer from our IT guy Steffen, explaining why it's not possible for us to implement that:


Everything is possible but to program such an algorithm needs a lot of highly specialist man power and someone who tags all categories that the scripts helps to suggest and assist the algorithms to learn ... it is kind of artificial intelligence ;-) if we write such a script/porgram that returns good results we could earn a lot of money! ;-)
And there is another problem that we had to implement it deep in the Kunena core files we don't want to change :-)


Regards,
Elisabeth

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  • alexandra85
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Re: Sanitation Systems categories

Dear all
As Jonathan said, it will be quite hard for us to agree on the “right” structure in this forum, however since we are at a brainstorming stage, here is my contribution. I believe that the 3 toilet sub-categories should be merged in one. I understand that many threads arose from all three categories, however if we speak about public toilet, mobile toilet, composting toilet, UDDT, pit latrines, I think that people will easily know where to search if we have only on subcategory call toilet system or user interface. I understand that there is a lot of discussions regarding toilets at the moment (and maybe this is the reason for breaking down the topic into 3 categories), but the trend might change and the interest can easily shift to another topic in the near future (emptying and transportation technologies for instance). My second contribution would be towards treatment technologies. From the last FSM conference in India, I realised that a clear distinction must be made between wastewater and faecal sludge treatment. According to practitioners, the distinction between both waste streams (with two very different characteristics) is not made and projects end up with unsuitable treatment technology. Therefore this is the structure I would propose:

1 Toilet system
Combine all 3 categories related to toilets

2 Emptying and Transportation
Including sewer, septic tank and pit latrines emptying technology (gulper, vacuum pumps, etc.)

3 Wastewater treatment technologies
Including all single technologies (on-site, centralised and decentralised) and treatment system consisting of several technology (DEWATS, etc.). It would also include re-use aspect (as long as it is still related to wastewater)

4 Faecal sludge treatment technologies
Including all single technologies (on-site, centralised and decentralised) and treatment system consisting of several technology (DEWATS, DTF, etc.). It would also include re-use aspect (as long as it is still related to faecal sludge)

5 Challenging environments, emergencies, reconstruction situations, resilience issues
Same as now

6 Various topics of sanitation systems
Same as now minus Sewers (in Emptying and transportation)

Alexandra Dubois

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